La Coquette

Artist:Alberto Vargas
Date:1910s
Medium:Gouache on Illustration Board
Dimensions:Sight Size 14" x 17" Framed 28" x 31"
Condition:Excellent
Original Use:Possible Cover Art for The American Weekly
Price:$15,000.00
Full view of guache illustration

Full view of illustration

The artist's early signature

The artist's early signature

Framed and matted behind glass in beautiful art deco aesthetic gallery frame

Framed and matted behind glass in beautiful art deco aesthetic gallery frame

A whimsical art deco original gouache painting titled "La Coquette" by Alberto Vargas. An early work by the Peruvian born pin up legend exploring the Commedia dell'arte revival that took hold around 1915, the cast of characters in this boldly colored and delightful Edwardian scene features the requisite maiden courted by a Harlequin with slapstick at his side as her guardian looks on in horror. Vargas brings a unique spin to this popular genre and his artistic mastery is apparent even at this early date.

Full view with artist painted French Matting border

Full view with artist painted French Matting border

Art deco gallery frame profile detail

Art deco gallery frame profile detail

Titled "La Coquette" in artist's hand

Titled "La Coquette" in artist's hand

Detail of Commedia dell'arte courting scene

Detail of Commedia dell'arte courting scene

This was acquired by Charles Martignette in 1989 from the Vargas estate - the painting is accompanied by a series of Kodak color photographs (dated June 1989) taken by Martignette of this painting at the time of acquisition, also included are several color photographs of the artist and Martignette taken shortly before Vargas' death in 1982.

Above: Charles Martignette and Albert Vargas c. 1980
Above: A series of Kodak photographs of Martignette and Vargas and assorted photos of this painting taken by Martignette included in sale

Before becoming a household name with his wildly popular "Varga Girl" pin up gatefolds for Esquire Magazine starting in 1941, Vargas created sensuous portraits of Ziegfeld Follies showgirls, worked in the art department for Paramount Films and created a few spectacular covers for The American Weekly and The Theater magazines.

Above: A Vargas Cover for The American Weekly of this era
Above: A Peruvian Princess by Vargas created for The American Weekly

This is an important and historic early offering with the added provenance of having been in the fabled Charles Martignette estate, the sadly departed author, historian and collector of vintage pin-up. Boston native Charles Martignette coaxed Vargas out of retirement in 1979 and had the artist do the cover art for fellow Bostonian's The Cars album Candy O, introducing the artist to a new generation of fans.



 

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